Thursday, October 14, 2010

Maybe Employment Is Not The Most Important Thing

So....scientists have come up with a shocking discovery.  Working at shitty job will increase your chances of becoming mentally unwell.  Wow.  Really?  Could I also make the wild assumption that things such as having cancer; losing a loved one; having to take care of a sick family member; having marriage problems; getting divorced; and not being able to pay the bills might make you stressed and unhappy?

Sorry for my sarcasm, but really.  It would be much more fun to read something surprising like....people who go to Hawaii are more depressed than people who don't go to Hawaii.   

The research was done by scientists at The Australian National University.  They studied 4000 people in the Canberra area.  I think they should extend their study, because maybe it's just a Canberra phenomena.  Maybe elsewhere, people in crappy jobs are super happy.

What the study showed was that being unemployed was not the worse thing.  Being in a good job is better than unemployment. Being unemployed is better than being in a bad job.

I think this makes sense.  Although if you NEED employment to be financially stable, then there may be some problems there.  I think poverty is a cause of unhappiness as well. It's hard to be happily unemployed if you can't afford to eat or get Internet service.  

Some people have this idea though that, money aside, you must be employed to be worth something.   I had this email-pal for awhile.  He was really into the whole idea that employment=worth of human   He was employed, but it was the type of job where he often had time off.  Although he was employed, he was often NOT working.  This same guy looked down at unemployed women who stayed home to take care of their children. To him, they were lazy. 

I think we should worry less about whether people are employed and more about whether they are working or not. How about people who have an office in a corporation, and they sit there playing video games most of the day?  I once worked for a temp agency. I had this job for a few weeks where I sat at a desk, and pressed a button when people entered the reception area.  It was SO easy, and I got paid pretty well.

In the past nine years, I have been unemployed.  But I have definitely been working.  I mothered a baby and toddler which is probably the hardest work I've ever done. I did some major video projects for my family. I act as a tutor/learning partner for my child.  I write this blog, and at times that has entailed about writing ten or so pages a day. That's a lot of writing. It's fun. I love it. But it IS work.   

On top of that which is mentioned above, I do the work that most of us humans have to do....dust, vacuum, make meals, wash dishes, scoop up cat litter, etc.

I love most of the work I do.  I'm a pretty happy person.  If I didn't like most of my work, I'd probably be an unhappy person.  How could I manage to be happy?  Work takes up a lot of time. If you're not liking your work, that's a bit of problem.

What about people who need employment....I mean for financial reasons?   Employment work often takes up a lot of hours.  Let's say someone is fairly lucky and has to be at work for only 40 hours.    There's 168 hours during the week.  If you subtract work and 7 hours per night of sleep, you're left with 79 hours. Hey! Actually that doesn't sound so bad. Seriously, I was going to make a point here, but maybe my point is wrong.  

Now I'm thinking if people are in awful jobs, maybe they should try to downplay that are of heir life and concentrate more on the 79 free hours.  Maybe that would make unhappily employed people more happy. 

Of course, not everyone is going to have 79 hours of happy free time. First of all, many people work much more than 40 hours a week. Even if they're not in the office for 40 hours, they might have at-home work.  How about people who have to respond to a multitude of emails? This can take up a lot of time. 

There's housework to add to the equation.  If you're a parent and/or pet owner, there's likely going to  a ton of housework.  I thought taking care of a baby or toddler was SO challenging...rewarding, but difficult. I can't even begin to imagine spending the day at a job, and then coming home to take care of a child.  Yikes. 

The other issue is if your job is really awful, it might be difficult to let go after you get home.  What if you're bullied?  What if your job leaves you feeling weak and exhausted?  What if your job forces you to do things that you feel are unethical?  What if your job makes you hate yourself?  If you're hating yourself, it's going to be difficult to enjoy those 79 hours of work-free hours.

BUT I am thinking if society stops overemphasizing employment....it might help.    Instead of sitting on the train and thinking I hate my job.   I hate myself.   I'm doing nothing important.  There's no chance of advancement.   There's no hope.   Life sucks; someone can sit on a train and think well, it's just a way to make money.   It doesn't define who I am.   I have my family.   I have the model airplanes I'm making.   I have that novel I'm writing.    I have that website I created.   I have my photography.   I may have an awful job, but I have a decent life.    

THEN you go buy a lottery ticket, because it's not exactly easy to have that mindset.   It's much better to just suddenly get wealthy so you can quit your job.   Or maybe not.   I've heard lottery winners often end up being unhappy.    That's kind of like my fake Hawaii example above.   Who would expect lottery winners to be sad?   It's a nice little twist there. Still.  That doesn't stop me from wanting to win the lottery. I'm going to keep trying because maybe I'll win, and then I can defy the unhappiness trend.